WASHINGTON — Democrats in the Louisiana congressional delegation are welcoming President Barack Obama’s plan to increase revenue in order to reduce the budget deficit.
Republicans representing the state call it a massive tax hike that they will defeat.
Obama’s plan to increase revenues $1.57 trillion is necessary, said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., to address the nation’s deficit.
“The president is absolutely right to say that we cannot solve the deficit problem without bringing new revenue to the government,” Landrieu said.
However, Landrieu has been a vocal opponent to the administration’s call to eliminate some of the tax breaks to oil and gas companies, worth about $41 billion.
“How we raise that revenue, that’s another matter,” Landrieu said.
Louisiana’s Republican House members can’t see the Obama measure passing and view it as more of a political move.
“It’s a naked attempt to show us as a do nothing Congress,” Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, said. “It raises taxes not only on millionaires but on people making over $200,000. It’s dead on arrival.”
Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, agreed. “It’s political, it’s pure politics, and I think Americans are tired of his politics,” he said.
Republicans should pass the legislation and allow any repercussions to fall on the president in next year’s election, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, said.
“The House Republicans have proved to be obstructionists so far,” Richmond said. “If you’re worried about looking bad, then defer to the guy. He was elected to lead the country, defer to him.”
The measure fails to make structural changes necessary to address the deficit, Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, said. Federal spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid should be addressed, Cassidy said. “What we need is not short-term savings but long-term savings,” he said.
The Obama plan will not do what the nation needs and that is to create new jobs, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, said.
“The president seems dead set on playing class warfare and raising taxes,” Scalise said. “When the president has to come out and say this isn’t class warfare, it’s class warfare.”
Dealing with increasing revenues should be done by reforming the nation’s tax code, Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, said. Boustany sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes the nation’s tax laws.
“The danger to me is that they try to do all these little rifle shot changes, which is exactly the wrong thing to do,” Boustany said. “You’ve got to do it in a chief fundamental reform across the board because otherwise, you create more complexity to it.”
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., declined to comment on the Obama plan but issued a statement calling it a “grab bag of tax hikes.” Vitter also called for revamping the tax code.
Everybody is being asked to sacrifice, Richmond said. “We’re asking our poor Americans to share the pain by cutting services, and we’re going to ask those that make more to do a little more,” he said.
Obama’s plan to pour money into the nation’s infrastructure is welcomed, Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, said. Raising taxes isn’t, he said.
“To raise taxes just to have more to spend, I don’t follow that line of reasoning,” Alexander said.
The nation needs immediate action on the deficit, Richmond said.
“What we’re doing is, we’re choking the spirit out of this country now,” Richmond said.